Coming out of your Shell

Marching into March this month’s ambassadors are the hermit crabs! At Zovargo we recently adopted a small group of Caribbean hermit crabs just a few months ago. They all have their own personalities, much like many other animals, and we have been enjoying the opportunity to get to know them better. While we have been getting to know them better individually we have also been learning more about their species and the struggles that they face in the wild.

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There are different kinds of land and marine hermit crabs. The land hermit crabs are found in tropical areas such as the Western Atlantic, the Indo-Pacific region, and the Western Caribbean. These critters thrive under the humid climate, but it still gets a little too hot for their liking in the day and because of this they are nocturnal. During the day they bury themselves in the ground to escape the humidity. At Zovargo our hermit crabs love to dig as well and burry themselves completely until nighttime approaches. In the night they scavenge around looking for food and perhaps even change their shells. Hermit crabs use empty shells are their homes and as they grow they need larger shells, because of this it is necessary to change shells frequently. Changing shells is a really interesting phenomenon. When a new shell approaches ashore all of the hermit crabs gather. Depending on the size of the shell the hermit crabs can either claim it because it is a perfect fit or wait for another to because it doesn’t fit. Depending on the size of the shell it can trigger a chain reaction! If the shell is small then one crab may exchange shells and nothing else happens. However, if the shell is large that’s when things get interesting. The hermit crabs line each other up from smallest to largest. Once the biggest crab switches into the new shell the chain reaction begins! The next largest crab then switches into the new empty shell and then the next largest crab does the same and this continues til the end of the line. Hermit crabs are fascinating, but unfortunately they do undergo some struggles in the wild.

In the wild one of the big things that is affecting not only hermit crabs but marine life and wildlife as well is littering and beach plastic. Littering is no good for any animal, but for hermit crabs it has created an unusual problem.

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The excess amount of litter that is present in their habitat is causing them to use that litter as their home instead of shells. Hermit crabs have been recently seen using bottle caps, laundry detergent cups, and many other kinds of litter as their shells. Unfortunately, these hermits’ crabs have been forced to use trash instead of their shells because their homes are now being covered in trash and many shells are also collected by humans on the beach. Littering is a problem, but there is a solution! Picking up trash where ever you find it and making sure it gets thrown away. For hermit crabs, it’s making sure that there is no trash on any beaches or near any storm drains. Cleaning up trash is a simple and easy way to help not only the hermit crabs, but wildlife and marine life as well.
 

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